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As US Secretary of State Blinken heads to China

these are the major divides he will try to bridge

From Russia and Ukraine to Israel, Iran and the broader Middle East, as well as Indo-Pacific and trade issues, the US and China are on a series of collision courses over security and economic stability.

BlinkinWASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is starting three days of talks with senior Chinese officials in Shanghai and Beijing this week, with US-China ties at a critical point over numerous global disputes.

The mere fact that Blinken is making the trip—shortly after a conversation between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a similar visit to China by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and a call between the US and Chinese defence chiefs—might be seen by some as encouraging, but ties between Washington and Beijing are tense and the rifts are growing wider.

From Russia and Ukraine to Israel, Iran and the broader Middle East, as well as Indo-Pacific and trade issues, the US and China are on a series of collision courses that have sparked fears about military and strategic security as well as international economic stability.

Blinken “will raise clearly and candidly our concerns” during the talks starting Wednesday, a senior State Department official said.

Here’s a look at some of the key issues Blinken is expected to bring up on the trip:

The Biden administration has grown increasingly concerned in recent months about Chinese support for Russia’s defence industrial base, which US officials say is allowing Moscow to overcome Western sanctions imposed after its invasion of Ukraine and resupply its military. US officials say this will be a primary topic of conversation during Blinken’s visit.

While the US says it has no evidence China actually is arming Russia, officials say other activities are potentially equally problematic.

“If China purports on the one hand to want good relations with Europe and other countries, it can’t on the other hand be fueling what is the biggest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War,” Blinken said last week.

China says it has the right to trade with Russia and accuses the US of fanning the flames by arming and funding Ukraine. “It is extremely hypocritical and irresponsible for the US to introduce a large-scale aid bill for Ukraine while making groundless accusations against normal economic and trade exchanges between China and Russia,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Tuesday in Beijing.

A senior State Department official said Friday that “through Chinese support, Russia has largely reconstituted its defense industrial base, which has an impact not just on the battlefield in Ukraine but poses a larger threat, we believe, to broader European security.”

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